When Is a Course Not a Course?

Lewes_Bonfire,_discarded_torch I feel the torch and pitchfork crowd coming after me when I tell them the Guild Academy offers “courses.” That’s because the “course” is sometimes called out as what is wrong with corporate training. I have to call BS on that.

What is a course (US version)? LMGTFY.

  • Individual subject
  • Often part of a larger curriculum
  • Specific start and end date
  • Scheduled
  • Led by teacher/instructor/trainer
  • Roster of students
  • Grade/credit/certificate after successful completion

Logically then, a “course” is not a course when it:

  • Is not limited to a specific subject
  • Is not part of a larger curriculum
  • Does not have a start or end date
  • Is not scheduled
  • Is not led by a specific person with a specific role
  • Does not have a fixed roster
  • Does not provide any recognition of completion (because there is no completion)

A course reminds me of a family dinner:

  • Limited to individual and pre-determined types of food
  • Part of a planned, larger dinner
  • Starts and ends (when you’re Mom let’s you leave the table or your full ; )
  • Is scheduled (dinner’s at 6PM!)
  • “Led” by host/parent/grandparent/spouse/friend/special guest who sits at the head of the table
  • Often has the usual “roster” with assigned seating
  • Recognition for completion (great job cleaning your plate, etc.)

So keeping this comparison going, a dinner is not a dinner when it:

  • Involves random food (maybe what you can hunt or gather that day)
  • Is not planned
  • Takes place whenever, wherever, with anyone
  • Never ends (you’re always hunting and gathering)

Here’s where I call BS on the whole ‘the problem is the course.’ A course provides the structure and a process for delivering information (the transfer knowledge and skills) to enable learning (Clark). Forums, workshops, conferences, learning experiences, learning solutions pretty much meet the definition of a course. Ever experience the irony of sitting in a room looking at PowerPoint slides about the evil of the “course” or “event”? I always look for the box on the smile sheet that says “this person is a hypocrite.”
elg academy
What makes a difference at the family dinner is  social interactivity, feedback, coaching, debate, healthful food, etc. The problem is not the family dinner. Sitting in front of the TV alone eating junk food and calling it dinner is. The problem is not the course. Sitting in front of a computer alone – with no interactivity and no feedback – basically reading and then clicking next but calling that a course is.

I’m pleased and proud to be offering the type of courses we offer through Guild Academy. Bring on the torches and pitchforks.

Torch Image:Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 5 November 2005
Website: http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/

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